Giraffe Facts: My What a Long Tongue You Have

Giraffes watching for their treats
© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.
If we travel to a spot that offers a zoo or wild animal park with giraffe exhibits, my husband knows we are going to add that to our itinerary.  A few years ago, we visited Virginia Safari Park which provides an above-ground stand where you can feed the giraffes.  Of course, we were going to do this!

The day we went, I led my husband straight to the giraffe habitat.  We purchased the feed, and I stood face-to-face with these beautiful animals for quite some time.  My husband endures this for me, but I know he wants to see the rest of the animals (as do I), so eventually we took the drive through the safari park.  Of course, once we finished the trek, we returned to the giraffe habitat.

I wanted a photograph of me feeding the giraffes, and two giraffes remained at the stand, gaze glued on the treats in my hand. Digital cameras take a few moments to reset for the next picture, and , unaware that I was ready and down to my last treats, my husband had just snapped a photo of the giraffes.  To keep them from grabbing the food, I stood out of reach waiting for him to tell me when the digital camera had reset.

He said ready, and I stepped up to extend the treats.

Almost took my rings off, but they're ready for more!
© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.
My husband's snort of disgust when he took the photo couldn't be avoided.  I made an awful face. Giraffes have very long tongues, and I'd made them wait a bit too long. One of them almost took my wedding rings off of my hand with his tongue!

An adult giraffe's tongue can be anywhere from 18-21 inches long.  This is so they can wrap their tongues around a branch and strip the leaves off. The tongue's long length, also, extends their reach higher to branches above them.  The acacia tree, although not the only plant in their diet, is one of the giraffe's primary foods.  The tree protects itself with heavy thorns along the branches.  The giraffe's prehensile tongue allows them to eat from this tree while protecting their mouth from the thorns.

Luckily for me, he didn't manage to wrap his tongue around my finger and strip off the rings!  What a calamity on many levels that would have been! So, although I wanted a photo of me feeding the giraffes, I got an unusual story instead.  My husband worried about getting the right picture, but I kind of like this one.  Afterall, I got kissed by a giraffe even if I don't look pleased at the moment.

I bet many of you have stories about a vacation idea or photo gone wrong or maybe of an unusual encounter in the animal kingdom.  I would love to read about them in the comments below.


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